Transition Shock: Putting Culture Shock in Perspective

Transition Shock: Putting Culture Shock in Perspective

  1. The Summary of the article. The article Transition Shock: Putting Culture in Perspective written by Janet M. Bennett touches upon some points of intercultural communication, namely the difficulties we have staying in a foreign country. Culture shock appears after we experience some tension and anxiety in far away places. Different experts in sphere of this issue have different points of view and call this phenomenon using different terms. For example, Alvin Toffler uses term “future shock” describing changes within the culture, Gail Sheehy uses term “passage shock” concerning painful crisis in the life of an individual.

The main goal of this article is to show various concepts of culture shock.

The author defines culture shock as “a subcategory of transition experiences” which include loss and change. Changes in our environment influence our emotional state. This transition shock demands adjustment. Culture shock appears when we visit another country or when we occur in some alien subculture. The author argues that all the people have had such an experience of a culture shock. Changes in life such as marriage, divorce, change of residence, new job influence our emotional state. She confirms that it is possible to prepare for culture shock in order to adapt to it in a proper way.

The symptoms of transition shock are various:

  • feeling of helplessness;
  • irritability;
  • fear of being robbed and cheated;
  • a glazed stare;
  • desire for home;
  • excessive concern about health;
  • state of frustration and anxiety;
  • communication problems.

The author describes responses which take place throughout the  experience of culture shock:

  • psychic withdrawal;
  • cognitive inconsistency, when our beliefs and values are destroyed by exterior change;
  • loss of psychological stability.

Transition shock and culture shock are so called defense mechanisms which help the individuals to adopt in the alien surroundings. They should change their former worldview and create a new perspective.

The author describes the main stages. She uses the US Navy’s presentation of Clyde Sergeant’s Model which gives four stages of adjustment to alien environment:

  • an exploratory stage when we understand that our worldview differs from the new culture. Here a fight stance occurs;
  • crisis stage when we are discouraged and use flight as a defense;
  • recovery and adjustment stage when we see that our contradictory perspectives are much lower our defenses, we filter new data;
  • accommodation stage when we give up to defense our worldview and flex for the new environment.

According to Taff the process of adaptation for the new environment includes the following types:

  • the monistic adaptation when we maintain either our own culture or the alien one;
  • the pluralistic adaptation when we maintain both our culture and the alien one;
  • interactionist adaptation when we mix both cultures.

The author represents the following resolutions concerning transition shock:

  • Such personality characteristics as self-awareness, nonevaluativeness, cognitive complexity and cultural empathy help an individual to adopt in a new environment.
  • Having culture shock we must adjust our cultural values and beliefs in order to understand the contrast culture.
  • It is necessary to develop the abilities to withhold the evaluation of a new environment. It is better to accept a new culture rather than reject it.
  • It is necessary to achieve an empathic response in order to accept and understand the other worldview.
  • Cultural empathy helps to bridge the culture gap and escape communication problems in intercultural transitions.
  • The best way for successful adjustment to a new culture is finding cultural complexity.

The author states that both the potential for stimulation and the potential for disorientation are the parts of culture shock and transition shock. It’s our duty to prepare ourselves for different changes in our life. Only our personal development will help us to avoid transition shock. We must experiment new behavior and develop our communicative skills.

  1. 2. My experiences in the culture where the freedom of expression comes with the requirement including demonstrating my ability to follow the strict formatting requirements.

I should say that I had not any problems with the freedom of expression including the strict formatting requirements. I think that I am a person of character and I can easily cope with all new situations in my life. I am sure that my behavior depends on such qualities as self-confidence, persistence, patience, kind and open relation to other people. I like to meet new people and to communicate with them. I am an open- hearted person and following strict formatting requirements did not cause difficulties to me. I did not have a loss of psychological stability and cognitive inconsistency. I did not have such feelings as irritability and helplessness.

I think that I had a monistic adaptation in this situation. Speaking about the stages, I can say that I missed the second stage because I did not fight with the strict formatting requirements. The adjustment stage was the most important stage as I managed to accept the strict formatting requirements. My resolution is that I could develop the abilities to withhold the evaluation of the new environment.

3. My experiences in the mutual learners culture where students were expected to work collaborating , alternating between the role of a teacher and a learner. In this situation I experiences such feelings as (the symptoms) confusion, embarrassment, there was a state of anxiety at the first steps when I had the role of a teacher, but than I experienced self-confidence. My responses – there was a little bit loss of psychological stability. I can say that there were four stages in the situation when I acted as a teacher: exploratory stage, crises stage, adjustment stage and accommodation stage. My resolution lies in the fact that I could adjust my cultural values and beliefs in order to understand and accept a contrast culture, namely the role of a teacher. I managed to develop the abilities to withhold the evaluation of a new environment. I think that my role of a teacher was  successful.